Parker introduces bills to combat gun violence

HARRISBURG, July 6 – State Rep. Darisha Parker, D-Phila., has introduced legislation to improve the Pennsylvania Instant Check System to purchase guns and raise the minimum age to purchase and possess a firearm to 21.

The bills were introduced in response to the rising gun violence in Philadelphia and across the state, and the inaction on bills currently introduced in the PA House to combat gun violence.

“All we can do is continue to introduce bills that will help to keep folks safe and that will curb the rising tide of gun violence in our communities,” Parker said. “I implore our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to consider these types of commonsense measures so that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel on gun violence near our homes and in our neighborhoods. It’s time to pass bills that will make a difference, not to turn a blind eye.”

In Pennsylvania, every firearm sale that is carried out by a licensed seller must involve a request for a criminal history, juvenile delinquency history and mental health record check of the potential purchaser or transferee. The state police PICS searches numerous databases to determine whether or not the potential buyer is legally allowed to own a firearm.

However, currently a licensed seller can transfer a firearm to someone without first conducting a proper background check if there is an electronic failure, scheduled computer downtime, or similar event beyond the control of the state police that lasts for longer than 48 hours.

In addition, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee has determined that the current fee and surcharge structure that funds PICS is insufficient and inadequate. In order to cover operational costs, these fees and surcharges would need to increase from $5 – the lowest firearm background check fee in the country – to $16.

 “I am introducing this first bill in order to address current shortcomings and to improve our background check process so that we are doing all we can to protect our residents,” Parker said.

The second bill addresses the age at which individuals can purchase and possess weapons.

“Owning a gun – a lethal weapon – is a serious responsibility that should not be taken lightly,” Parker said. “We set minimum age requirements for everything from driving to drinking alcohol because we know that young people are not prepared for some of these very heavy responsibilities.”

Parker added that there is evidence that laws raising the minimum legal age to purchase firearms to 21 are associated with decreases in firearm deaths and suicides among young people, especially among those 18 to 20.

“I introduced legislation that would raise the minimum age to purchase and possess a firearm from 18 to 21 in Pennsylvania,” Parker said. “My legislation has an exception that ensures that legal firearm owners who possessed a firearm prior to the effective date of the bill will not be affected by this increase to the minimum age. My goal is not to remove firearms from the hands of legal gun owners, but to reduce rates of firearm violence and self-harm among our young people.”